A Public Celebration of a Personal Doctor

Abstract – The life of a family doctor is engaged with the people, families, and community he or she serves. Caring changes lives. Yet, we seldom have the opportunity to hear the gratitude or to reflect upon the privilege. In this essay, two family doctors share the experience of seeing a community celebrate the life of their doctor. In these public reflections on their personal doctor, folks reveal how he saw their needs, understood their fears, and partnered with them to create futures. Their stories are compelling evidence that personal doctoring is alive and well and held deeply in the heart of America.

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Excerpts

“Transitions test our strengths, weaknesses, and values. For a family those times are often birth, marriage, illness, and death.”

“He’d look at you and know, but still
Would stop and listen anyway.
Everyone was important and everything
Held meaning. Patiently organizing the
Details, he caught the wonder and the mystery.”

“Dr. John had become part of the landscape, and the geography of the town just changed.”

“… a professional life full of challenges met and promises kept, of more successes than failures, more fulfillments than regrets.”

“…years of service, days (and some nights) of caring, and moments of tenderness.”

“… Personal doctors, living in the community and practicing among people they know, can base their medicine on evidence that is richer than randomized clinical trials.”

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Copyright © 2010 Annals of Family Medicine, Inc. Originally published in:
 Phillips WR, Green LA. A public celebration of a personal doctor. Annals of Family Medicine. 2010 Jul-Aug;8(4):362-5.

Republished in the anthology: Gotler RS, ed. The Wonder and the Mystery: 10 Years of Reflections from the Annals of Family Medicine. London, UK: Radcliffe Publishing; 2013. ISBN 9781846199820

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For more information on the anthology, see: Gotler RS. The Wonder and the Mystery: Your Voices, Your Stories. Ann Fam Med. 2013;11(3):205-206.

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